Pilot Era test updates

I know, I know that all of you were waiting this article, but it's not what you think.

This article will be a kind of report and I'll delete it when I'll write the complete review of the camera. I don't know if there will be photos and examples. Mainly it'll be a written article where I explain my thoughts and experiences.

THIS IS NOT THE REVIEW OF PILOT ERA !

(in caps lock the people take it more serious)


I want this to be clear because a lot of people on facebook groups said that I made the video review of this camera, but IT WAS ONLY AN UNBOXING and FIRST IMPRESSIONS video. NOT A REVIEW.

Now, since this thing is clear, in this article I'm gonna share with you stuff about the camera. My thoughts, some tests, pics, videos so you can see them. Idas etc. Probably also PiSoftTech team will read it and I hope we can help each other to improve this camera because it has a lot of potential.


Let me tell this thing, before beginning : I can't make the review of this camera yet. Not only because I had few days to try it out, but because in this moment, 01/01/2019, the camera is incomplete. There are important features missing (read below to understand) and for the price of 2500€, today, I'd not buy it. And I'd never say to someone to buy it. Not because the actual features suck. The photos are good, the videos are good, the camera is user-friendly, the app works, there's a damned fan inside it to cool it down. It works. But a lot of shooting modes are missing, a lot of features are missing and if this camera wanna kill the competition cams, it needs the missing features, it need to be improved.


But...Personally I believe in it. I like its shape, it's kinda smooth monolith with sensors. It's very comfortable to be brought everywhere, the weight is around 700g. I think that this camera will be the Insta360 Pro (1) killer. It could be. I'm gonna help PiSoftTech as I can to make it be...(because honestly, come on, who shoots in 3D in 2018 ?? didn't it die in 2010 ?)


And I'm gonna help you too. You Trusted Photographer, you professional 360 photographer, you person who wanna spend money for something good. But of course, it has to be good before ;)

Ok, let's begin. (You can see video tests in 360 here)


Update 01-01-19

I made a lot of tests with this camera. Not enough to express a final opinion, but enough for this kind of article.


Photos

This camera, actually, shoots in JPEG. 8K resolution (8192x4096). This is one of the highest native resolutions between 360 all-in-one cams (Panono, Detu Max, Aleta S2 are above this one). There's the HDR mode made through bracketing of 3 pics (probably +/- 2 EV). Of course there are also lower resolutions, but I'm not even gonna consider them.

One of the MAIN things missing in this camera is the RAW.

(And here I know that half of you would leave because I'd leave too, but people, don't give up)

RAW photos are missing, so if you wanna make a deeper adjustments or pro editing, you cannot do it for real. You have to work on the jpeg (HDR better of course), but RAW is something that personally I miss a lot. Since I shoot mainly single pictures, for now (for now because I'm gonna start with tours soon), deeper editing is something very important. RAW mode is the basis for shooting in 2019. We all know this.

For sure, this feature is under developing and will be released with the next updates. I'm not even worried about this because a camera without RAW at this price is unthinkable.


There's a Pro mode for photos, but it allows only to set ISO and EV.

ISO 100-800...ehm... I'd say "meh". Good that you can make a choice, but 50-3200 (or at least 50-1600) would be better. Plus, manual White Balance is missing. The camera makes a great work with it, but would be good to have it manual too. And manual shutter is missing too. I cannot do long exposure. That's important almost as RAW. Night photos are necessary too.


What else is missing regarding photos ? The other shooting modes : Intervallometer and Time Lapse. These are the main photo shooting modes which should be included in EVERY camera.

In my opinion their developers are working also on this, so I'll just wait the news and the next update.


Videos

I have nothing to say about videos for now. The resolutions are good. 8K 20fps may not be enough for someone, and if it would be increased to 24fps, it would be great and less noticeable. But still, 7K at 24fps is good too. I'd not consider the other resolutions because if you wanna record in 4K, you can buy a Madv360 (with 20% of discount) and it'll be good.

There's an adjustment to be done with the directional audio. I've already reported this to PiSoftTech.










Stitching

I still have to figure out how stitching works (there are 2 stitchings flows and 2 stitching modes). You can regulate the stitching from indoor to outdoor putting it also in a mid way and it changes the "ghosting" distance on stitching lines. (when the images are overlapped you can see some things twice with different opacities). Usually the images are overlapped perfectly and you don't see them twice, but changing stitching distance it improves this thing. I still have to make other tests.

Then there's Real-Time stitching and OpticalFlow stitching. I think that it's something like Madv360/MiSphere app (real-time) and MiSphere Converter (optical) stitching.

Sometimes the first is better, sometimes the second. I still have to understand it better. The good thing is that you can change the stitching flow even after you have stitched the photo with the other flow so you can see the difference and choose the best one.


GSV

Made a test. The quality is not good enough. It says 8K, but it's pixelated and seems a 3K/4K picture. Maybe I made something wrong. I'll try another time when I'll have the possibility. But I can say that it's easy and fast. It records a video in 7fps and upload the pictures based on GPS datas. GPS is very precise. Checking the road on Maps in satellite view, the photos are a BLUE LINE (and not single pics) and they have a very precise position.

Bad point - the camera doesn't patch the Nadir with the "Healing Brush" effect so if you wear a backpack (where you put the camera), you and the backpack will be visible. This has to be corrected or the whole GSV mode is useless. Gonna make other tests and will talk to the brand.

FOR NOW I'M NOT GONNA EXPRESS MYSELF ABOUT THIS BECAUSE I NEED SOME ANSWERS FROM THE BRAND. Maybe it's me doing something wrong.


Live Streaming

Not tested yet


Usability

Here I have nothing to say. It's awesome. The software is very very very user-friendly. It's all clear about how to use it. It's easy to arrive everywhere. The connection to wifi is fast. It can create the HotSpot to enable the other deviced to connect to it. I don't know if it could have other utilities out of Smartphone remote control.

The screen helps a lot and, basically, you can do everything from the camera without needing remote controls. The battery is a Li-Po 7200mAh. It lasts very much. Declarated 3.5h.

Will make stress tests in these days.


4G

Didn't try. I put my italian sim card in it, but didn't work. Maybe it's not enabled for all the countries yet. Will ask to the brand.


External microphone

A lot of people asked about this.

I don't know. The only port on the camera is a USB Type-C. I don't know if I can connect a microphone to it because I don't have an adaptor. Maybe will try in the future.


That's all for now. Ask more below or in the comments on fb.

I remember you that this is not a review. I'll update this article periodically. Follow me on fb (my new page here) to have the updates. Or join the 360 groups because I'll share the things also there.


Thanks for reading.


- Alchimista

p.s. I created a fb page for my channels because I wanted to separate the things from my personal account. You can follow it if you don't want to lose the news about Pilot Era and other 360 stuff.

p.p.s. Of course the comments are welcome also here below.

Battery

Today I stressed the camera a lot. At a certain point the fan on its inside turned on to dissipate the heat. It wasn't that hot, anyway. The camera has been turned on for something like 3h30mins. I made 30 mins of live streaming using WiFi, made around 30 mins of videos 8K/4K stabilized (yes, stabilized), taken around 30 photos HDR and not-HDR, changed some stitching flows to improve stitching, watched some minutes to check the stabilization and then just transfered stuff to my phone or left the camera in standby.

After all these things, the camera had 53% of battery. Very good.


Stabilization

Yeah..it's not a Fusion nor the ONE X (AND FOR SURE IT'S NOT A HERO7, IT'S USELESS TO COMPARE AN ACTION FLAT CAM WITH THIS ONE, thanks). The stabilization works ONLY on stitched videos. I mean, directly stitched videos, the ones you don't need to stitch after the recording. Those videos are in 8K 7fps, 7K 15fps, 4K 30fps. It's not an anti-shake stabilization, but an anti-rotation stabilization. In the sense that if you are watching in front of you and rotate the Pilot Era on a side or upside down, you'll still watch in front of you.

For sure this camera is not made for walking vlogs holding it in your hand (also because its weight is 700g), but if you'll want to put it on the top of your car....I don't know. It shouldn't be a problem for GSV, also because I made my test walking. Of course we are talking about normal 360 stabilized videos.


I made a couple of video tests from light to low-light environment and back. It manages the light to low-light very well, but takes some seconds from low-light to light. Still, nothing bad.

Here you can see the stabilized video.

Update 13-01-19

I was wrong. After have thought for a while about RAW files on the Pilot Era, I realized that it's probably something  that will never happen. Simply because if they want to add this mode, they should write again the whole shooting process and for an almost complete camera, this is unthinkable.

But then I realized that this camera doesn't need it. Not really. Because Pilot Era points to be THE all-in-one 360 camera. I mean that everything you need to do, you can do it only with the camera, without needing to conenct it to the smartphone.

Since there's the possibility to put a 4G sim inside the camera and make it have the own internet connection, you can do live streamings or upload stuff directly from the camera with its own internet connection.

HDR pictures are good, live streaming too, videos are good....so...once some other shooting mode will be added, the camera will be complete. And this will probably happen during the next updates.

The first change should be the customizable Nadir logo. But I'll let you know once I'll upload my testing unit.


Here you can see the video in which you can understand something more about this camera.

Update 06-01-19


Live Streaming

Live Streamings were good. Made one on YT and on facebook.

YT : https://youtu.be/kTIApgkHUOQ

fb : https://goo.gl/jmsnrH

4K (this is the max resolution), 15mbps (this is the max bitrate). In my opinion it was kinda useless to try lower resolutions. Maybe lower bitrate would save more internet, but I prefer to give to the viewer as much as I can. In this case, 4K 15mbps.

The quality is good. I'd say classic 4K quality.

I used my mobile connection. Created the hotspot with the smartphone and connected the camera to it. I tried to put my italian 4G sim card inside the camera trying to make it work on its own, but it didn't worked. Maybe I need a sim card with only mobile internet plan.

But Live Streaming can be started ONLY from the camera. Actually it is not possible to start streaming from the mobile APP. We'll see from the next update.


I'm also getting used to the stitching reference. It has to be adjusted everytime the location changes. Through the screen on the camera you can see the differences and level the stitching reference to your needing. Once you get uset to it, it'll be easier.

Can see these pics below. For now I'm using PS to put my logo on the Nadir, but from the next update, I will be able to change the logo from the camera. It'll make the things easier and faster.

Update 02-01-19


Good news !

(I'd say obvious news, but still it's good that they confirmed.)


RAW pics are work in progress and will be added asap. Hopefully in the next update.

I know that probably a lot of people lost the interest for this camera when I said that there was no RAW yet, but it was obvious that they would add it. How ? How could a camera like this be without shooting in RAW ? Come on. (read the next updates)


So let's wait a bit and meanwhile.....night shooting.

I made few tests because the weather was like "Hey, look at this guy. He has a new camera to test. Let's make a bunch of drops fall every time he goes out of the house.".

- Thanks, weather -

But...There's something I would never expect. For now, as I wrote before, the camera shoots in JPEG and I thought that during the night it would not be really good (of course automatic settings).

I WAS WRONG

Look at this picture.

That's awesome. The colors are good.

Of course making a bit of color correction

it could be even better, but I wanna show

you everything original so you can see

what this camera can do alone and you

can also imagine how could you improve

it by yourself ;)

The lights are managed very good, also the

stitching (the manhole is a bit ghosted and

ruined, but it was really close. This problem

will not exist using a high tripod.).

Of course this pic is in HDR. Being in JPEG

you can see a bit of grain, specially around

the lights, butthe quality is very good.

When my tripod will arrive

(hopefully 4th/5th january)

I'll make more pics to show you.



I made also a video in 8K 20fps.

You can see it here with all the other video tests : https://goo.gl/ShXDR4

This video was in really low-light conditions, at 20fps. It was not a good idea, but I've noticed that the lights flickered a lot. Yellow lights. I reported this issue to the brand. We'll see.


Today it's raining (Who know why I'm not surprised) so I'll not go out. But I'll do other tests asap.

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